Vision of IRSEA. Romania has been continuously appreciated as a trustworthy partner by the countries in Asia. The bilateral relations between Romania and the Asian countries are free of direct political issues and with a rich history and dynamic developments over many years. Likewise, the relations between Romania and the Asian states are similarly robust at multilateral level, with a particularly strong cooperation at the UN, ASEM, ASEAN and other international formats.
In the aftermath of her 1989 democratic breakthrough, Romania has channeled utmost efforts towards deepening the integration within the European and Euro-Atlantic structures with an aim to safeguard her new democratic path, security and well-being of the Romanian people; it is against this backdrop that the bilateral relations with countries in other regions of the world have apparently developed at a different pace.
According to the Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis, the country’s bilateral relations with her partners in Asia, and not only, are expected to gain momentum starting with 2023: “At the same time, the investment of new energy is needed to reconnect or keep close, as the case may be, Romania's friends and partners in the Middle East, the Gulf, Africa, the Indo-Pacific and Latin America. In the current moment of global crossroads, it is not geographical distances that matter, but the proximity of values and action in mutual support when needed.” (Speech at the Annual Meeting of Romanian Diplomacy, 2022)
It is in this ambit that IRSEA continues to actively support, through all its means and its status as officially recognized think-tank, Romania’s steady efforts to further strengthen her long, continuous and sincere bilateral relations with her partners and friends in Asia. There is a need to know each other better, which is the target of IRSEA’s newest project titled “IRSEA Bridges to Asia”- an avenue opened for High Officials, Ambassadors, IRSEA partners and professional analysts, from both Asia and Romania.
Look Beyond the Horizon and Join Hands to Steer
China-Romania Friendship on a Long and Sustained Journey
The history of the bilateral relations between People’s Republic of China and Romania and the expectations for their future have been vividly expressed by H.E. Mr. Han Chunlin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to Romania, a trusted friend of IRSEA.
In his insightful article, His Excellency Ambassador Han makes a brief review of the rich history of diplomatic and people to people contacts between China and Romania, showcases the importance of the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries and urges to further deepen the China-Romania friendship.
China-Romania friendship has a long history. As early as the 17th century, a Romanian scholar Nicolae Milescu Spataru visited China and wrote the book “Travel Diary on China”, which enabled the Romanian people to get to know China and Chinese culture. In the 1930s and 1940s, Dr. David Iancu, Dr. Bucur Clejan and his wife travelled thousands of miles to China and joined the Anti-Fascist war. Their heroic deeds are still widely spread and praised in China. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the relationship between the two countries has withstood the test of international vicissitudes and achieved steady development for more than 70 years. In 2004, the two countries established a Comprehensive Friendly and Cooperative Partnership.
The traditional friendship has been consolidated and deepened. In 1949, Romania became the third country to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. In the 1950s, Romania helped China to develop its oil industry. In 1970, when Romania was hit by catastrophic floods, China provided a large amount of material aid, accounting for about one-third of the total aid received by Romania at that time. In 2008, when China’s Sichuan Province was hit by a devastating earthquake, Romania quickly extended a helping hand to China. During the pandemic, the two countries have helped each other in the fight against COVID-19. In 2022, the Romanian government provided all-round support for China's evacuation of its overseas citizens from Ukraine, carrying forward our traditional friendship that stands out in difficult times.
The economic and trade cooperation has continued to bring good news. Despite the lingering pandemic and the geopolitical crisis, our bilateral trade volume has kept growing, exceeding US$10 billion for two consecutive years. Romania’s high-quality products such as cosmetics, mineral water and wine have accelerated their access to the Chinese market and gained popularity among Chinese consumers. China's investment in Romania has grown steadily. According to Romanian official statistics, there are more than 13,000 Chinese enterprises in Romania with a registered capital of 410 million US dollars, creating a large number of jobs. The China-Europe Express Railway has newly opened a rail-sea intermodal route from Wuhan to Constanta, which has further stabilized the logistics supply chain between China and European countries.
The people-to-people exchanges have demonstrated many highlights. The Chinese Film Days and the Exhibition of China at the Asia Fest were well received by Romanians, the “China Season” of the Sibiu International Theater Festival has expanded popularity, and Chinese-language films have successfully entered the Romanian commercial film market. The “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competitions for Foreign College, Middle and Primary School Students in Romania were held respectively with success. The Romanian Olympic Committee sent 22 athletes to participate in the Beijing Winter Olympics, while the Chinese National Wrestling Team and the 3x3 Basketball Team came to Romania for training and competition. Frequent exchanges in folk culture, art and sports between our two countries have further enhanced mutual understanding and friendship.
Looking back in the past, China-Romania relations have withstood trials and tribulations and developed over times, and have embarked on a path of equal treatment and win-win cooperation. Looking to the future, we should show the courage and never get distracted by temporary problems, make good use of historical wisdom and experience, follow the trend of peace and cooperation, openness and integration, reform and innovation, and jointly promote the steady and continued development of China-Romania Comprehensive Friendly and Cooperative Partnership.
First is to be good friends with mutual political trust. We should view and develop China-Romania relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, insist on mutual respect, and accommodate with each other’s core interests and major concerns. The two sides should maintain high-level exchanges and carry out dialogues and exchanges at all levels and in various fields, in order to strengthen policy coordination, identify more areas where our development strategies align and our interests converge, advance China-Romania relations in sync with the development of the two countries, and inject impetus into the steady and long-term growth of China-Europe relations.
Second is to be good partners pursuing win-win results. We should continue to advance cooperation in traditional areas such as agriculture, trade, investment, infrastructure, logistics and manufacturing. In the meantime, we need to focus more on emerging fields such as green development, digital economy, and health care, etc. The two sides should make good use of our complementary advantages in market, capital and technology, and fully tap cooperation potentials to achieve mutual benefits and common development. We should take cooperative opportunities from practical and efficient platforms such as the Belt and Road Initiative and China-CEEC cooperation to add new dimensions to our bilateral relations.
Third is to be good relatives that know each other and share affinity. The two sides should deepen cooperation in education, science, culture and sports and maintain a sound momentum of people-to-people exchanges. Romania is endowed with unique tourism resources. In the post-pandemic era, both sides should improve tourism cooperation as soon as possible to attract more Chinese tourists to visit Romania. We should encourage exchanges between sister cities, women and youth groups, which will sow the seeds of China-Romania friendship more widely in the hearts of our people.
Good friendship is like real gold, and it will not fade even after thousands of tempering. As the Chinese Ambassador to Romania, I would like to work with the Romanian side to strengthen confidence, build consensus, and put every effort to build a sustained, stable and healthy bilateral relationship, and bring more benefits to the two countries and peoples.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position or view of IRSEA.